Woman to Women
Ready and Willing
When you’re earning your corporate stripes, the key word is earn
I think I know how the dinosaurs felt. Willingness – a trait that’s worked well for me in my life and career – is becoming extinct. At 40 years old, how can I be going the way of the T. rex?
I hear it’s a generational thing.
Let’s go back for a moment (WAY back.) During my senior year of college, I was an intern for the PR department of a Fortune 100 company. In my 30-day review, my “boss” (a nearly extinct term in itself) gave it to me straight – I’d been hired because of my thoughtful responses in the essay portion of the writing test, as well as my interview and presentation skills, but mostly as a result of my enthusiasm and willingness. I was thrilled this had come across loud and clear in my interview, and that my PB&J combination of skill and energy had landed me the job, out of 150 applicants.
I’ve since progressed upward through the corporate-America food chain and am now in the position to interview and hire staff. And here’s what I’ve noticed: there’s an uncanny entitlement mind-set cast in quick-set cement among candidates for intern positions through early-career hires. It’s one of the tragic flaws of the Millennial generation – many seem to feel as if they’re above certain work. Hear me now: I am not the Devil Wearing Prada, tossing my coat upon the desk of an underling. Nevertheless, I’ve found the younger set often expecting a level of contribution, engagement, entertainment, encouragement and recognition that far exceeds their willingness to do things without a defined benefit at the end of the project rainbow.
Here’s my advice to those of you on the lowest rungs of the ladder looking upward and wondering when you’ll be able to touch the clouds: Be willing. Be willing to take on new assignments. Be willing to work with new people on a project. Be willing to raise your hand and speak up. Be willing to step outside your comfort zone and prefabricated career path and fully engage. Accept a lateral assignment, go to Siberia (or some other potentially undesirable expat location) for six months, expand your horizons to develop your breadth and depth. The early years of your career are not the time to draw boundaries and pout. Your desire to suck it up and be willing (remember that old college try?) is what will bring you the progression, success and recognition you so crave.